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Interview with Fr. Paul Tran O.P. Vietnamese Dominican Vicariate North America.

Interviewed by Fr. Manuel Rivero, O.P.

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- What did you do before entering the Order ?

I was born in the North of Vietnam in 1955 when our country was divided into two parts just a year before. The North was governed by the Communists and the South by the Nationalists. In order to avoid living with the Communists, my family moved to the South when I was 3 months old.

When we were in the South of Vietnam, my family moved to several places, and finally we settled in a small town of the Central Region of the country. I am the sixth of eight children in a family which has 4 boys and 4 girls.

It was the tradition in Vietnam to send the children to a Minor Seminary when they finished the Elementary school. And it was the same thing with me. My parents sent me to the Minor Seminary which was run by the Foreign Missionaries of France when 10 years old.

In 1968, the Communists from the North of Vietnam attacked all the cities in the South on New Year Day, my parents were concerned for my safety so they withdrew me from the Seminary and again sent me to the Dominican Postulant School in Saigon, the capital of the South at the time.

I entered the Novicate in 1972 and made the simple vows in August 1973. After the novicate I studied philosophy and theology until 1978 at the Dominican House of studies in Saigon.

In 1975, the Communists took over the South of Vietnam, many people left the country and many people were put into prison, and I was one of them. After three years in prison, I scaped Vietnam as one of the " boat people " and came to the United States in 1982.

After arriving in California, I joined the Ordre in the Wester Province, continued to study Theology and finally I was ordained to priesthood in 1986.

- What appealed to you in the Order ?

I was too young to understand priesthood not even the dominican vocation. But little by little I learned about the Dominican spirituality. Il fell in love with St. Dominic and his Order. The story of St. Dominic inspired me to become a Dominican in order to preach the Good News to others.

- What is your apostolic field ?

Rigth now I am the Vicar Provincial of the Vietnamese Dominican Vicariate in the North of America. Besides that I am a pastor in a parish which has around 3000 parishioners. Sometimes during the year I go to preach retreats for different Vietnamese communities in Canada and in the United States.

- What is your great contentment in the Ordre ?

Being a Dominican, my greatest joy is to follow the steps of St. Dominic bringing the Good News to others by preaching for the younf people.

- What is the dream you would like to fulfil ?

The dream which I would like to fulfill is that when my term of Vicar Provincial finishes, I could ask my Superior to study some more. Being a Dominican I feel the need to study more and more in order to share knowledge and wisdom with the others. The more we study the more we are close to the truth, Veritas.

-Could you say a few words about your Vicariate ?

Our Vicariate was established in 1981, in Calgary (Canada), with the goal to support those who just escaped the Communists and those who went abroad to study but couldn't return to their country, and also to support the Province of Vietnam which has to endure a diffulcult time in our homeland. At the beginning we had 13 bethren, today we have 32 friars, 22 priests and 10 students (including the novices). Our brothers are doing ministry in different fields : teaching, chaplains in universities and High Schools, chaplains in Hospitals, parochial ministry, preaching retreats … We have one priory in Calgary and one house in Vancouver. Besides that, we have 3 small communities in which two or three brothers are living together.

- What are your plans for the future ?

Thanks to the Lord who has sent young people to us every year (that's why our Vicariate is growing), our immediate plan is to find the resources to built a new priory so that we have enough space for our brothers to live and to work. Besides, we are developing a program of faith teaching which has the 3 year-cycle and that our preaching team could use to help the people.

- What would you say to a young man who would think of entering the Order ?

When Andrew saw Jesus, he asked him : " Lord, where are you living ? " Jesus answered : " come and see ". That is what I would say to a young man who wants to become a Dominican. It is important for him to experience our life and our ministry at first (hand) in order to join us. And as Andrew met Jesus he stayed with Him, I hope that when a young man comes to us, he will be inspired by our witnesses to the Truth and will stay with us all his life.

Interview by Fr. Manuel Rivero O.P. (Toulouse Province). puce

 

Design & management : Fr. Yves Bériault, o.p.